Collegians savor their day at big league camp

Collegians savor their day at big league camp

PHOENIX -- Who knows where Joe Pavlovich's baseball career will take him from here, but the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee right-hander will always have Wednesday afternoon at Maryvale Baseball Park. Facing his favorite team, he stared down a trio of bona fide big leaguers in Adam Lind, Khris Davis and Gerardo Parra -- and struck out all three.

Pavlovich doesn't exactly remember coming off the mound.

"I remember I walked, but it was pretty surreal," he said. "It was fun."

The Panthers lost, 8-0, and managed only one hit against seven Brewers pitchers, who combined for 17 strikeouts. The hit belonged to right fielder Derek Peake, a senior from Waukesha, Wis. Pavlovich, a graduate student, hails from Denmark, Wis., near Green Bay.

Both players are Brewers fans. So were most other players on the Panthers' roster, all but three of whom hail from Wisconsin.

"Just a phenomenal experience," said Panthers head coach Scott Doffek. "We've had this on the schedule for a year, year and a half, and you certainly have it circled. Every one of these guys are aspiring to get to this level. I think college athletics is all about experience, and for these guys, you can't beat something like this."

It was the first-ever matchup between the Brewers and Wisconsin's only Division I baseball team, and the Brewers' first game against a college team since they played Arizona State in 1983.

Brewers facing UWM in exhibition

The game's first hit belonged to Peake, who singled up the middle against 2011 first-round Draft pick Taylor Jungmann in the fourth inning. The Brewers answered in the bottom of the inning with two runs before pulling away.

"We definitely got a little confidence there, sticking with them for a little while, just believing that we could compete with them," Peake said.

Said Doffek: "One of our players said, 'We can play even with the starters.' Obviously, joking. We've seen some good arms, and good arms at our level are different from good arms at this level. Our guys were having a hard time with 95 to 98 [mph]. When you show up on one day and have to do it, the ball was moving pretty quick for us."

The Brewers drew 1,866 paid fans to the exhibition, and Doffek hopes the matchup becomes an annual event. UW-Milwaukee already plays one game a year against a college opponent at Miller Park.

"It shows us where we're at," said Pavlovich, who had a group of supporters in the stands including his father, Mike. "Those guys are getting paid a lot of money to play, and it shows us we could compete with them. It was 8-0, but that doesn't say how the game went."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.